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Stern Somebody: Eryn Park

The Oppy staff is proud to continue a feature called “Stern Somebody,” telling the stories of remarkable classmates and how they became the exceptional people they are today.

If there is one place Eryn Park never thought she would be at this point in her life, it’s a soon-to-be MBA graduate working as a product marketing manager for a sustainable beauty brand. Since childhood, she’s always dreamed of moving to NYC and becoming a pastry chef. She cites the muffin man scene from Shrek as having a huge impact on her. The gumdrop buttons! So she packed up, moved across the country for undergrad at NYU, and worked her way up from fine dining kitchen intern to executive pastry chef. But once there, she felt something was missing. Having a penchant for thinking holistically and puzzling things together, she felt business school would be the right move to catalyze a career shift.

I met Eryn in our Leadership in Organizations class the day I was FORCED to act as CEO during a class activity. I was totally unamused with the assignment, an introvert’s worst nightmare, and as the complete life force was being sucked out of me, all I heard was Eryn, a total stranger at the time, hyping me up. Since then, we’ve been two peas in a pod. She’s someone I’m grateful to have met that dreary day, and I’m honored to be able to call her a friend. I’ve always been enthralled by her story and seeing her journey over the past couple of years has been super rewarding to witness. I’ve been referring to her as “the Langone dream” for, as she can attest to, a while now. And since she will never ever talk about herself, I’m excited to be the one to share her story with the internet.

[Disclaimer: Please keep in mind while reading that we are both far too deeply rooted in sarcasm and dry humor to see our way out of it now. We tried our best to tone it down.]

Fast Facts 🏃🏻‍♀️💨 📠

Name: Eryn Park

Program: Langone

Specializations: Marketing, Sustainable Business & Innovation 

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Instagram: @erynspark

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eryn-s-park/

Imagine people are reading this. And they don’t know who Eryn Park is.

Lucky them.

Shut up. You didn’t get your MBA for nothing! Life story elevator pitch in 3…2…1…

I grew up north of Los Angeles and moved to New York for undergrad. I always wanted to be a pastry chef since I was super little. It was a childhood dream of mine. So for undergrad I studied nutrition and dietetics because it was close enough to food and my parents didn’t want me to go to culinary school just in case I changed my mind, which was great advice…I’m happy I listened to them. (Thanks, parents!)

In my senior year, I worked for Grow NYC, the largest farmer’s market organization in New York. I also spent a couple of nights a week at ABC Kitchen. Upon graduation, I was offered a full-time position at the restaurant, and that was my entry into hospitality.

I started as a kitchen intern and worked my way up to executive pastry chef. It was all I ever knew I wanted. But there was kind of always the thought of, “when I become a lead cook…a sous chef…an executive pastry chef, things will get better.” Finally, when I was in that position, for me, it felt like a dead-end to a certain degree. While I did have it initially, I lost a lot of that passion and drive. I felt I needed to reconsider what makes me feel excited again.

Cue business school.

Yep. I wanted to be in more of a business position because I like thinking about how things work in a holistic sense, like puzzling things together. So to feel more confident in what I can bring to the table and to feel more credible, getting an MBA seemed to be a great starting point for me.

Talk about your new role! How’d you get into that?

My specializations are in marketing, sustainable business & innovation. When I was first applying for roles, I started looking at what was available. I thought positions at food CPGs (consumer packaged goods) would be a smaller jump since I already have experience with food, flavor, and operations. I was applying for roles with keywords around food or sustainability but I wasn’t hearing back from anyone. Then one day on LinkedIn I saw ‘easy apply your profile matches this job’ at Eos for product marketing and innovation intern. I honestly don’t know how the bot flagged my profile as a match, but I just went with it and they reached out to me. In a little under a year, I’ve been promoted twice and am now a product marketing manager in innovation.

That’s amazing! How did you feel about starting a role with literally no experience in the industry or position? Do you think your culinary experience gave you an edge in any way?

It was great. During my first interview with the HR manager, she listed reasons why they were interested in me – which was the first time I’ve ever experienced that, by the way. I started laughing and told her I’m surprised to be hearing back. But she said they liked the fact that I had experience in a different industry but tackling the same end goal.

At Eos, they’re huge on flavor, fragrance, concepting, and customer experience. And they really appreciated my point of view on that, not coming from the beauty world.

Even with those first few interviews, I had already felt something very different about the approach of the company. Normally, and especially being in the program, I always felt like I had to prove why I belong. I don’t come from a traditional background, so I dealt with imposter syndrome. Something great about the program is meeting all of the friends I’ve made that have also shared their experiences with imposter syndrome and feeling not as confident as they would want to be. Going through that interview process was a shining light on how far I’ve come.

We love a humble brag. That must have been a nice aha moment for you. The very thing you thought would hinder you, is actually the reason why they wanted you.

Also in the program, it’s been repeated so much that your skills are transferable, you just need to know how to weave the story. To have it very generously pointed out by an employer really caught me off guard – in a good way. I had been thinking of ways to make my skills transferable in shorter gaps because I’m in a new function and a new industry which is big, I feel. Normally you try to focus on changing just one at a time. I hope this is a new trend in changing the ways industries are viewing talent. From this experience, I feel like anything is possible so you may as well give it a shot.

*pretends to shoot basketball*

Brickkkk

So you’re also graduating – congrats! What’s an encounter you’ve had with someone at Stern that sticks out to you?

I was in Peter Henry’s global econ class and he would encourage us to reach out if we just wanted to talk. At that point, I was feeling a lot of pressure about what I was going to do after graduation. I’d been talking to so many people about different industries and positions and trying to network, and it just became overwhelming because I’m getting all of this information and I still didn’t really understand what it all meant for me. I don’t remember everything we talked about but I just remember him saying to be confident. And I was like sh*t, you know? That was something I was working on but not really moving the needle. The attentiveness, the empathy was there in our conversation. Him telling me that just resonated differently.

He’s also one of my favorite professors of all time. Any classes that surprised you?

Professor Thomai Serdari’s luxury marketing class. I took it based on a friend’s recommendation (shout out to Kiju Lee). I never thought much about luxury marketing, but the way she teaches it and the way she would challenge us to change our thinking piqued my interest. Also, a lot of the tenets of luxury marketing and brands are similar to those in fine dining and hospitality. There is a focus on quality and craftsmanship, and I resonate with a lot of those pillars. I’ve met with her one-on-one and she’s always so willing to share and provide resources and connections, so she and her class were quite influential in the way that I see myself going with marketing now at Eos. We talked a lot about concepts in class and I do a lot of concepting now. I’ve been able to think about things like design and inspiration in a way that I just wouldn’t have before.

Totally. That’s definitely one of the hallmarks of the Langone program is applying what you learn in class immediately in the workplace. I mean, we always hear that as a soundbite, so I’m sure it’s rewarding to see it come to fruition.

There are so many things I’ve picked up in class that I’m able to apply the next day. That’s obviously very helpful in my performance and the way I’m viewed on the team.

No time like the present! 

Thanks, Langone!

So I’ve heard you’re a master negotiator >:) Give us the key to the mint.

Am I? I have to say, I think my “negotiation skills” have gotten stronger over the past couple of years from the program and the pandemic. With the great resignation, there is a greater appreciation for employees. I think, in part, that mental shift helps me feel more confident.

From the ethics class I took, one of the takeaways that stuck with me is that you have morals and ethics that you live by in your day to day, so how do you apply those to where you work? In the past, that wasn’t something I considered when applying to a business. I always felt if they were offering me a job I should take it because I’m so thankful. Through realigning my priorities, I realized I’ve already experienced a career where I felt I had to give up so much of myself in that I was always tired, physically sick, stressed, or unhappy. There are so many qualities I have and morals I live by – giving maximum effort, being a good team player, pushing myself to grow – that I think should be recognized and acknowledged from an employer’s end, so I definitely want to be at a place that does that.

Salary is obviously great, but what are the other benefits I can get? At Eos, I feel supported all the time by every manager. I get feedback, reassuring and constructive, but always positive in a way where I understand what’s expected. If I can’t get that respect from an employer, I’m happy to walk away.

Making those little edits in my point of view, I think that’s helped me with negotiation honestly.

Give em 2 for $40 mill like Dave Chapelle.

Are we quoting Drake now? I’m upset.

What are you super proud of?

Currently, finishing this program, ha. Getting out of bed, putting pants on, eating breakfast. Is that too sad?

It’s honest.

Honestly, eating breakfast lately has been a big game-changer.

I mean May is mental health awareness month. Well-being is number one. Shout out to May!

Also, it’s AAPI month! But don’t shout out to May again.

This is perfect that you’re being featured! This wasn’t planned btw.

Can you not make me sound like a raging lunatic, please.

I’ll try to tone it down but it’s really hard when there are two of us.

Tell me about it.

So you still bake for fun! What’s your favorite creation?

A couple of weeks ago I made a Spanische Windtorte. It was a technical challenge on the Great British bake-off so that was fun. But honestly, it’s that ridiculous frog cake I made. It’s essentially a Swedish Princess Cake in a frog shape.

What inspired this!?

Well, I had been wanting to make a Swedish Princess Cake for a while. Then I saw a lot of frog cakes on the internet so badda bing badda boom. It just brought so much joy. It was silly but so fun and ridiculous.

I love that you can bake for joy now. What’s a big life goal for you?

What I’d really love to do is to go to Korea with my family. The last time I went I was super little so I have no memory of it. I definitely would love to see it again and through the lens of my parents.

So as a graduating Sternie, give the people some words of wisdom.

Don’t measure yourself in ways where you think you have to make up for something. Flip it the other way and think about what amazing things you bring to the table.

That was beautiful, Er-bear. As I’m laughing at all the incredible baking puns we could turn that into, your final and most important question, can you bake me a cake? Honestly I shouldn’t even have to ask you…

Since you asked so nicely.

She said yes <3 

If you don’t know, now you know. Follow Eryn on IG @erynspark and connect on LinkedIn to see more of her delicious creations and just because she’s super cool, as you can see.

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